Shrub Sales

Be on the alert for super shrub sales right now. Last week we scooped up 12 Boursault Rhododendrons, six un-named deciduous azaleas, and two Delaware Valley White azaleas (iffy in our garden) --- for less than $400. The sign said 50% off, but I’m sure it was a lot more than that. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well the rhodies are more than three feet across and about three feet tall with trunks more than two inches thick; the azaleas, only slightly smaller. The local nursery owner said he just wanted to move them out of inventory.

Another local nursery just ran an ad offering 50% off all shrubs, we went over there this weekend and got two wonderful Japanese Andomeda and a huge Viburnam mariesii for 40 bucks.

Timing is everything, of course. I spent last Saturday depressed after a morning of flipping through my extensive collection of shade gardening books looking for ideas and inspiration. Nothing. Then it hit me --- a wall of rhodies against the deer fence, fronted by azaleas, then a collection of native ferns in the foreground and, finally a groundcover of Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens).

Then depression. How many decades would my rhodie cuttings take to match the size of their 15 year-old cousins out back, or their 30 year-old parents out front? Would I live long enough to see them flower?

Problem solved. On our way back from a garden party, we stopped at a traffic light. There it was. Like a cosmic sign. Well, it was a hand-written, spray-painted sign: “Rhodies & Azaleas 50% Off.” In gardening, as in karate, one must be prepared to strike when the opportunity presents itself. All senses must be on high alert, scanning the horizon with radar-like precision for any hint of one’s target. And just as in karate, the target can vanish in an instant. While you were busy thinking, “What’s the catch?” I was signing my charge slip and loading my treasures into the truck.

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